Lil Durk, long a voice in hip-hop’s trenches, has officially climbed into the mainstream. With the world under quarantine, Durkio has returned to serve up the full-length Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 as an appetizer to his highly anticipated No Auto album.
The 15 street tales are packaged with pain and sorrow, and notched the Chicago native another top five debut on the Billboard 200 chart. A pair of records also landed on the Hot 100, including the candid “3 Headed Goat,” which finds Durk knighting Chicago’s next superstar in Polo G and is now his highest chart placement to date as a lead artist.
The 27-year-old has made it a point to give back to the communities that supported him most, in Chicago and his second home of Atlanta. In April, Durk delivered hundreds of hot meals from his manager’s restaurant to frontline workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic at Rush Hospital in Chicago. He didn’t plan on publicizing his good-doing, but TMZ got wind of what was going on and spread the news.
“I just look at it like, if anyone needs our support, I feel like you should be there,” he says. “It doesn’t matter who you are. When we went back to Chicago, it was a whole different type of vibe because it was our home city. Just giving that love and knowing I can change people’s smiles, faces, and refrigerators, so I look at it as important, for real.”
Earlier in May, Durk continued to help out by bringing another few hundred cheesesteaks to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. As part of the Hosea Williams Feed The Homeless initiative, he also donated an additional 2,300 masks to inmates from out of his own pocket.
Durk says he isn’t done giving back to the people just yet either, as he plans to keep putting smiles on people’s faces. In a discussion with Billboard, Durkio talks about his sky-high expectations for No Auto, his pledge to do a joint album with Future at some point, why Signed to the Streets 1 is his favorite project in his discography, and more.
Billboard: What made this the right time to drop Just Cause Y’all Waited 2?
Lil Durk: Honestly, I’m just waiting on Metro [Boomin’]. Me and Metro are dropping the No Auto album, so I’m just here in the quarantine thinking I’d drop something just for the streets while they’re waiting.
How did it feel to see “3 Headed Goat” with Lil Baby and Polo G hit No. 43 on the Hot 100, which is your highest placement to date as a lead artist?
I feel the growth. It shows growth and where I’m at with the music. It ain’t just talk. Now, I see that No. 43 and it’s like, “Okay, we going!” [Polo G’s] next up for sure. He’s doing his thing. I ain’t even going to say next up, he’s up.
You’ve done a good job building up a consistent following. The fans are really buying into what you’re bringing to the table right now.
It feels good. I’m seeing the transactions, I’m seeing the conversations, and I’m hearing the cars riding past me playing it. It’s like a step forward. We’re 10 steps forward compared to what we were the last project. It shows improvement and I take it all in to say, like, “Alright, s–t. Let’s keep it going and do 100,000-plus with Metro.”
We’ve seen you heavy on the feature front lately (NAV, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, G Herbo). Why do you think so many artists come to Durkio to add some sauce to their records?
That different type of melody. It’s not the type of melody that everybody else does — there’s a certain way that I do it, and I think they want that type of vibe. A lot of us got the same lane, but it’s just how you do it that solidifies you. Someone [could] be like, “You sound like Durk!”
What do you think about a potential joint album with Future?
Before he ever retires — I know he’s not though, he’s just a music head — we’ve got to do it.
What else can you tell us about the No Auto coming out?
We’re just waiting on him and 21 Savage, but we’re still working. I want to do, like, 50 records. Then just go off the vibe, so we got a long way to go. I’m gonna let Metro [Boomin’] pick the features.
When you came to visit the Billboard office in 2018, King Von was running around with you in the background. Now, he’s got his own movement. How’s it feel to see his rise?
He’s going crazy to the max right now. He’s got that drive that I haven’t seen in a long time. He’s hungry, even though they’re praising him like they’re supposed to. The streets are giving him the type of vibe that he’s still hungry. Every time we call each other, he’s at the studio. We can’t communicate, so when I see him working, it’s like, “Okay.” That’s the goal. Get the family up and going, and then they create lanes for their families and friends.
What have you been up to during the quarantine?
Playing Warzone — I’m getting better. I probably got like six wins. It’s good for me because I just started. I’ve still been going to the studio. They were closed, but I had them open up, so it’s just me in there.
Why was STTS1 your favorite project that you’ve ever done?
It was just a vibe. Everyone was alive — the violence wasn’t really there. It was one of the most valuable times in my life. Rondo and them were out of jail still — L’A [Capone] was alive. Everything was just a vibe. The other albums were great, but that was special.